MeAm Lo'ez on Bereishit
The Sixth Day of Creation; Man
1:24 G-d said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures, each according to its kind: animal, and creeping thing, and beast of the land each according to its kind." And it was so.
On the sixth day, G-d commanded that there be created from the ground all domestic and wild animals, as well as all other land creatures, such as reptiles, scorpions and insects. A pair was created from each species.
1:25 G-d made the beast of the earth according to its kind, and the animal according to its kind, and every creeping being of the ground according to its kind. And G-d saw that it was good.
There are many kinds of animals; some are small, like the goat, and others large, like the elephant. Among beasts of prey, a similar contrast exists between the shrew and the lion. We also find animals as diverse as the ant and the snake. Because there is great variety among land animals, the Torah says, "G-d made the beasts of the earth of its kind." This indicates that all were created according to His word. (Abarbanel)
The animals were created just before sunset of this sixth day. (Ramban; Bachya)
One may ask why the birds were created on another day, not on the sixth together with other land animals. The reason is that on each day a different element was involved in creation. These elements are fire, air, water and earth.
On the first day, creation consisted of light, which comes from the element of fire. One the second day, the heavens were created, separating the waters and forming the element of air. On the third day, the waters were gathered into one place and dry land appeared. This involved the elements of water and earth. The creation of plant life involved the four elements; they were also created on the third day.
On the fourth day, the cycle was begun anew. The astronomical bodies, which involve the element of fire, were created on the fourth day. The fifth day saw the creation of birds, whose element is air, and fish, whose element is water. [This creation involved air and water, like that of the second day.] On the sixth day, G-d created animals, whose element is earth. Finally, man was created, and this involved all four elements. [Thus, creation on the sixth day was analogous to that of the third.] (Zera Berakh, Part 1. Cf. Zohar, Pinchas, 219b)
According to a different opinion, G-d's command that birds and fish be created occurred on the fifth day, but they were not actually created until the sixth. (Ramban)
The sun was created after the earth to refute the theory that the earth was created from the power of the sun. According to this theory, the heat of the sun evaporated the water, leavning dry land, and this caused plant life to develop in a purely natural manner. G-d therefore completed the creation of the earth and its produce on the third day, and only then created the sun on the fourth. This teaches that everything was created through G-d's will. (Toledot Yitzchak)
1:26 And G-d said, "Let us make Man in Our image, after Our likeness. They shall rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and over the animal, the whole earth, and every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."
This verse must be explained carefully, since its wording is very suprising. Nonbelievers argue that there is a multiple godhead, attempting to use this verse as a proof text for their contention, since it says, "Let us make man," in the plural.
Because of this the Sages changed this verse when they translated it for King Ptolemy. Instead of "Let us make man," they wrote, "I shall make man." (Megillah 1)
The Jew is a master of his soul, and believes that "G-d is One and His name is One" (Zecharya 14:9). We are not impressed by their "proofs," since we always find refutation close at hand. In this case, the very next verse states, "And G-d created [in the singular] man" (vayivra Elokim). This is a clear indication that the Creator is an absolute unity. The verse uses the word VaYivra in the singular for "created," and not VaYivr'u, which would be the plural.
Why, then, did the Torah use the plural expression, "Let us make man?" There are four reasons for this:
- Some say that man resembles the angels, so they wished to see him created immediately. G-d announced it to them, and said, "Let us make man - come and rejoice for I am about to create man." (Targum Yonatan; Zohar Chadash)
Then the angels divided inot opposing camps. Some said that man should be created because he would have a good heart and would do good deeds. Others said that he should not be created, since he would be engaged in strife, and strife is very despicable before G-d. Still others said that he should be created, since he would have mercy on the poor and do much charity. A final group said that he should not be created, because he would speak falsely. (Bereishit Rabbah 8; Zohar, Balak)
According to another opinon, the first two groups of angels whom G-d asked spoke out against man, and G-d had them consumed in the River Dinur. When He asked the third group, they replied, "It is not fitting that we speak. We have seen what happened to the first two groups. All the world is Yours, and who can question what You do?" (Sanhedrin 4)
To show G-d's humility, the Torah uses the expression, "Let us make man," even though it could be used to support an erroneous belief. Since humility is such an important principle in Judaism, the Torah uses this expression, "Let us make man," to teach that one should be humble and seek the advise of others, even though they are inferior to him. One should take G-d Himself as an example, since even He sought advise from the angels.
Our sages taught that when Moshe was writing the account of creation in the Torah, he became confused when he came to this expression, "Let us make man." He said, "O G-d, Master of the universe, nonbelievers will be able to use this as a proof text that there is a multiple godhead, heaven forbid." (Bachya; Bereishit Rabbah 8:7)
Moshe was asking a very significant question. He saw that the Torah said, "And G-d made the firmament" (Bereishit 1:7). This merely indicates that He strengthened the firmament, since we know that everything was created through G-d's word. Why then does the Torah use the expression, "He made?" It is because there are nonbelievers and idolators who worship the sun and moon, thinking them to be gods. In order to refute their error, the Torah uses the expression, "he made," indicating that even the astronomical bodies are G-d's handiwork. (Perashat Derachim, Derech Anavim)
Moshe said, "Master of the universe: I cannot understand this. You have already written, 'G-d made the firmament,' so that people should not erroneously think that there are many gods. Why then do you write, 'Let us make man,' which could mislead people to think that there is a multiple godhead?"
G-d replied, "Moshe, write as I tell you. If one wishes to err, let him."
G-d put many things in the Torah that, if one is biased, can lead him to erroneous beliefs. But they were included in the Torah to provide good reward in the Olam Habah to those who resist temptation and strive to interpret them correctly. ([Rabbi Shmuel Hagiz,] MeVakesh HaShem, Venice 1597)
- The second reason was provided by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai when he was forced to flee from Tiberias. A number of Sages visited him and asked him to explain this verse, "Let us make man," to refute the arguments of nonbelievers. (Zohar Chadash. Cf. Ramban, quoting Rabbi Yosef Kimchi. Also see Zohar, Pinchas, pp. 219, 239)
Rabbi Shimon replied by quoting the verse, "Hear, you deaf ones, and you blind ones, look that you might see" (Yeshayahu 42:18). He asked who these deaf and blind ones were, that the Scripture tells them to listen and see. The he explained that the verse is speaking of people who are blind, not seeing and not understanding the ways of the holy Torah. They have a straight highway before them, but they choose twisted paths, groping like the blind. Such people cannot understand the true nature of the holy Torah.
At the very beginning of creation, G-d brought three artisans into existence: heaven, earth and water. He gave each of these an assignment as well as the power to fulfill it. The water was ordered to gather to one place so that the dry land under it should become visible. The earth was ordered to give rise to the great heavenly lights that would illuminate it. The heaven was ordered to form a firmament, dividing the waters. The water was again ordered to give rise to fish, fowl and other organisms.
In this manner, all things were created through these three artisans, each one on its proper day. On the sixth day all of them came together, seeking to hear what G-d would order them to do. But G-d said to them, "On this day I wish to create the most significant creature in all the universe, namely, Man. None of you alone has the power to accomplish this, as you did the other things in creation. You must all work together, and I will join you. You will provide the elements for man's body, while I will place in him a holy, immortal soul."
Such a partnership did not exist in anything other than in the creation of man. We should therefore feel pain when we see the souls of people who sin, who do not keep the Torah, and who wish to separate themselves from G-d. Such people do not wish to participate as a partner with the soul that G-d gave them, but only want to immerse themselves in their animal nature. The religious, however, are aware of the kindness that G-d showed to man, since, unlike other things which were created by His artisans, man was formed by G-d Himself. Contemplating this, one can strengthen his commitment to Judaism, and avoid sin.
In describing the creation of man, the Torah says, "G-d said, 'Let us make man in our image, as our likeness, and let him dominate the fish of the sea, the flying creatures of the sky, the cattle, all the earth, and every creeping thing that crawls on the earth.'" This is the only case where the task of an element of creation is specified. One may logicaly ask why the fact that man would rule the fish and fowl must be emphasized. But [this is what G-d said]: "Man is so important that he has the power over all that was created in the world. It is therefore not fitting that he be created by your hand; I Myself will also participate in his creation." (Author's own)
The artisans replied, "Why must we participate? You are the Master of the universe, and You created us. Take what You need, and do not lend credence to those who say that You needed our help to create man."
G-d said to them, "This is very much like the situation of a king who gave his servants huge gifts of cash. Each one was given a substantial portion. After a while, the king's personal valet also requested a gift. The king said, 'Since this valet has served me with love and complete devotion, I wish to satisfy him and give him the greatest gift of all.' He then gathered all of his servants, and said, 'I want each of you to give my valet a portion of your gifts, and then I will also give him my portion.'" (Tikunei Zohar Chadash, VaErah)
When a person truly repents, all the angels, stars and planets therefore ask G-d to have mercy on him. They all have a portion in man, and they love him when he is good. Only the demons (Shedim) have no portion in man, so they hate and harm him.
- The third reason the Torah uses the expression, "Let us make man," is because the angels became very proud when G-d created the birds and fish on the fifth day. The angels said, "We are better than they all are." In order to deflate their pride, G-d said, "Let us make man." What He was saying was, "Let each of us make a man, and let us see who is truly great."
G-d wanted to show the angels that they have no reason to be proud, since they cannot create anything. The very next verse says, "And G-d created man." This indicates that the angels were not able to create anything. (Toledot Yitzchak; Zera Berach (; Yalkut Reuveni, Part II, "Geulah.")
This also explains why the fish and birds were created on the fifth day, and not on the sixth with the other animals. It could be said that anything created earlier was more important, or conversely, that the most important things were created at the end. G-d therefore created fish and fowl on the fifth day, and then created the angels. Then, on the sixth day, G-d created the other animals. If all were created on the same day, the angels would have been able to argue that they were most important. But since some animals were created on the fifth day before the angels, and others were created on the sixth, the angels have no argument for their importance. In either case, they are inferior.
- The fourth reason is that kings and other important people often use the first person plural as a sign of majesty. G-d said, "Let us make," in order to demonstrate His greatness and omnipotence. (Bachya. This is also in Zohar Chadash p. 17)
1:27 So G-d created Man in His image, in the image of G-d He created him; male and female he created them.
Here the Torah only outlines the creation of man, while in Chapter 8, it will be presented in detail. This section describes the relationship between man and the rest of creation, so that he will know how to behave, purifying his heart to serve G-d.
Man's creation demonstrates G-d's infinite wisdom. (Sefer Mitzvot Gadol, Positive Commandment #2) G-d made him two eyes with which to see the world. Over them are eyelids that can be closed when he must avoid looking at something improper, such as another man's wife. The Evil Urge tempts him to sin, and the only remedy is to close his eyes. The eyelids also allow a person to sleep and rest so that he will have health and strength to keep the Torah.
G-d also gave man two ears to hear, and two nostrils with which he can breathe and enjoy the various fragrances in the world. He gave him a mouth with which to eat, drink and speak words of Torah.
R' Shimon bar Yochai once said, "If I was alive at the time when man was made, I would have asked G-d to give him two mouths, one to study Torah, and the other for mundane speech." Later, he took this back, saying, "If this were true, things would be worse. As it is, even with only one mouth, man is constantly engaged in idle chatter and malicious gossip. With two mouths, he would do so all the more." (Yerushalmi, Berakhot 1)
There is another advantage in having only one mouth. With it, one sometimes studies Torah, and sometimes he speaks. A person might use his mouth to spread malicious gossip, to swear falsely and to eat forbidden foods. But then, with the same outh, he asks G-d to forgive him, to keep his tongue from evil and his lips from malice. (The author's own)
He made man a heart, which is the king over all the organs, and which is the seat of the animate soul. He made him a stomach, which digests his food and prepares it so that it can be used by the body. He made him a liver and gall bladder to aid his digestion. He made him intestines to reject the unusable portions of his food after they have been fully digested.
He made man two kidneys, one on the right, the other on the left, to purify his blood. It is also taught that the kidneys "give advise." (Berachot 9) The right kidney gives good advice, while the left one gives bad advice. He also made him the spleen, which produces black bile. The spleen also causes a person to be happy, and makes him laugh. (Ibid.)
He made man the bones of the spine, as well as all the bones that are doubled, and arranged them in a perfect structure. He then covered them with flesh to protect them. He made him blood vessels to bring blood to all parts of the body.
G-d made man muscles to hold together his bones and limbs. He made him joints in his spine, as well as in his fingers, toes, arms, legs, elbows, knees, ankles, soles and neck. Man can therefore bow and stretch himself, or move on his feet as he desires.
It is said that a lion's neck consists of a single bone, so the lion cannot look backwards without turning his entire body. Our Sages taught, "After a lion, but not after a woman." (Ibid.) It is better to walk behind a lion than behind a woman. If a person walks behind a lion he can feel safe, since the lion cannot see him without turning his entire body; in the meantime he has a chance to escape. But if a man walks behind a woman, his passions can cause him to sin and to lose the Olam Habah.
A man must therefore be careful to avoid walking behind a woman. If he encounters a woman in the street, he must wait until she has passed, as we shall explain in the proper place. (See commentary on Chayey Sarah)
The sign of the month of Av is Leo, the lion, while the sign of the month of Elul is Virgo, the virgin. Our Sages thus taught us that one should go in the right way "after a lion," which represents the month of Av. We should not go "after a woman," this being the virgin, the sign of Elul. One should not wait until Rosh HaShanah [which follows Elul] to begin repenting, but should do so "after a lion," at the end of Av. The entire month of Elul should then be spent in repentance, so that one will approach Rosh HaShanah in purity.
G-d gave man skin to cover his flesh and bones, protecting his body with a beautiful covering. He gave him a skull, which is the king of the limbs. Inside it is the brain, which is the seat of the intellect. He provided a fluid around the brain to protect it and shield it from adverse substances in the blood. He placed hair on his head to protect it from cold, since the skull is not covered with flesh. He also gave the male a beard to provide him with a majestic appearance, and to distinguish between man and woman.
He made man hands with which to work. With these hands he can hold a book and study Torah, and can also earn his livelihood. He made him feet, the pillars of the body, with which he can walk wherever he pleases.
He also made man a navel, through which he receives nourishment when he is in the womb. It is taught that when an embryo is in the womb, it is doubled over like a book. (Niddah 3) Some say that it is like a nut in a jar of water. The embryo's two hands are on his thighs, his two wrists are on his knees, and his two heels are under his buttocks. His head is on his knees, his mouth is closed, and his navel is open. (Tosefot, Ibid.)
As long as he is in the womb, the embryo is nourished by what his mother eats and drinks. He does not pass anythign from his body, since this would poison his mother. When he is born, that which has been closed is opened, and that which has been opened is closed. If not for this, he could not survive for even a moment.
While a person is in the womb, a lamp shines over his head, and he sees from one end of the universe to the other. As long as he lives, he will never have better times than these. He is taught all the Torah and bound with an oath, " Be righteous, do not be wicked. Even if all the world tells you that you are righteous, consider yourself wicked." With this thought, one will always be concerned and repent. But if a person consideres himself perfect, he can become so immersed in sin that it will be virtually impossible for him to change his ways.
The unborn child is told, "You must realize that G-d is pure, His servants are pure, and the soul that He gave you is pure. If you keep it pure, all good and well; but if you defile your soul, it will be taken from you. Three partners partook in your creation: G-d, your father and your mother. Your father and mother provided you with a body, but it was still dead; it could neither speak, walk nor hear. Then G-d provided it with a divine soul, giving your face expression, and providing you with the power to see, hear, speak and move. He also gave you wisdom and understanding."
When the time comes for a person to die, the situation is like a partnership which is dissolved, where each one takes back his portion. Here too, G-d takes back His portion, the soul, and leaves the body, the portion of the mother and father.
G-d gave man five fingers on each hand. The first is called the godel (thumb); the second is the etzba; the third is called the ammah; the fourth is the kemitzah; and the fifth, the little finger, is called the zeret (pinky). (Bachya on Tzav; Shevilei Emunah 4)
Each one of these fingers is created to fulfill a specific function. They are just like all the other parts of the body, which serve a necessary function. No part was created in vain.
The five fingers parallel the five senses: taste, smell, touch, sight and hearing. Each has a finger which serves it. The thumb cleans out the mouth so that one can taste. The second finger is used to clean the nose, so that one can smell. With the third, which is the longest of all, one can touch the entire body. the fourth finger is used to clean the eye, so one can see. The little finger is used to clean the ear. Once can see that each finger was created for a special purpose. One unconsciously uses the little finger to clean the ear, and the second finger to clean the nose, without ever changing them. This is an indiction that all was planned this way by G-d.
The fingers are pointed so that if a person hears forbidden speech or vain oaths, he can place his fingers in his ears and not hear them. (Ketuvot 1) For the same reason, although most of the ear is hard and cartilaginous, the earlobe is soft. It can be used to close the ear, so that it will not hear idle chatter and malicious gossip. The ears need special protection, since they are the first parts of the body to be burned by the fires of purgatory.
Man has 248 limbs. (Oalot 1:8) They are as follows:
- 30 bones in the sole of the foot, six in each toe = 60
- 10 in each ankle = 20
- 2 in the lower part of each leg = 4
- 5 in each knee = 10
- 1 in each thigh = 2
- 6 in the hips
- 11 pairs of ribs = 22
- 30 in each hand, six in each finger = 60
- 2 in each forearm = 4
- 2 in each elbow = 4
- 1 in each upper arm = 2
- 4 in each shoulder = 8
- 18 vertebra in the spine
- 9 bones in the head
- 8 in the neck
- 6 in the chest
- 5 at the orfices
Total = 248
Thirty bones in the foot, six in each toe. Then, ten bones in the ankle, two in the lower leg, five in the knee, one in the thigh, and three in each hip. There are eleven pairs of ribs. The hand has thirty bones, six in each finger. There are two bones in the forearm, two in the elbow, one in the upper arm, and four in each shoulder. This yields a sum of 102 bones on each side, for a total of 204.
Besides these, there are another 46 limbs. These include the eighteen vertebra of the spine, nine bones in the head, and eight in the neck. There are also six in the "gateway to the heart," which is the chest, and another five at the outside orifices. The total is 248 limbs.
Paralleling these 248 limbs are 248 mitzvot in the Torah. (Pesikta, quoted in Reshit Chachmah, Shaar HaYirah 10. Cf. Zohar, VaYishlach) Each limb announces, "Observe a mitzvah with me, so that I will live long." There are also 365 prohibitions in the Torah, paralleling the 365 days of the solar year. Each day, from sunrise to sunset, a heavenly voice announces to man, "Take it upon yourself not to sin on this day, so as not to tilt the world to the side of liability. The world is in a state of equilibrium between good and evil. Even a minor sin can upset this equilibrium toward the side of evil and cause great damage."
Like man, the earth is also divided into 248 parts ([R' Shmuel ben Avraham Lanedo] Kli Chemdah, Venice 1596), with the head, eyes, mouth and other limbs. It also has 365 arteries. Every time a person observes a mitzvah, he sustains one of his limbs, as well as part of the world.
It is for this reason that man is called a microcosm. (Avot DeRabbi Natan) He is a miniature universe, having in him everything that exists in the world.
Some people argue that man is inferior to the other animals, since he does not have natural weapons as they have. (Rabbi Yosef of Trani [Maharimat], [Tzafanat Paneach, Venice, 1648) The ox has its horns; the lion has its powerful teeth and claws. The same is true of many other animals. Furthermore, animals do not have to toil for their food; they find what they need wherever they go. They also do not need clothing, since they have adequate natural protection. If man is the most important and perfect of creatures, why was it decreed from heaven that he should have to be concerned about his food?
The entire premise is wrong. An animal's specialized limbs are signs of its inferiority rather than superiority. Since they do not have hands with which to prepare food, G-d saw to it that they would be able to procure food automatically with their specialized limbs. But man was given skillful hands, which have the power to do anything he desires.
This is also evidence that man was not created merely to eat and drink. Where this the case, he should not have been created different from any other animal. But man comes to this world only to prepare provisions for the Olam Habah. He dominates all the other creatures so that he can have the serenity with which to keep G-d's Torah.
Man also has an intellect that is far superior to all other creatures. Although many animals can do things that imply intelligence, this is not true intelligence, but more instinct.
Thus, a spider has the power to produce a large, symmetrical web, perfectly disigned to capture its food. Flies and other insects are captured in the web, and are eaten by the spider. Seeing this, we might assume that the spider is highly intelligent. But then we see a spider spinning its web in the royal palace, where it will immediately be destroyed. We realize that this is not the product of intelligence, but of blind instinct.
The same is true of bees, which build hives, producing honey from their saliva, and wax from special glands. This was part of the divine plan, since the bee's body has a natural ability to convert nectar into honey. It gathers this nectar by natural instinct.
We see that all creatures only engage in their own specific tasks. No creature ever does something that pertains to another animal. This is a clear indication that they do not do things intentionally, but only instinctively. Not so man, since each one of us knows how to do vastly different things. Each day man makes new discoveries and produces new inventions. This is because man has true intelligence.
All the limbs that G-d placed in us, plus the soul that he placed in our nostrils, the tongue that he set in our mouth, and our lips, should therefore praise His holy name. (This is a paraphrase taken from the prayer Nishmat) Man's advantage is based on his intellect, which is far superior to that of any animal.
Animals also do not have a soul. They have a vital force, but this is not essentially any different from that of plants. Nor do they have the power of speech. Man was given dominion over all of them so that he would be able to keep the Torah and mitzvot.
One must realize that everything under the orbit of the moon was created for the sake of man and for no other reason. (Rambam, Introduction to Mishnayot Zerayim) Some animals, such as cattle and sheep, were created to be used as food. Others were created as beasts of burden, to carry man's belongings, and allow him to reach faraway places. Trees and plants also have their functions.
If it appears that there are things that do not provide any benefit to man, this is only because of our ignorance. We see evidence of the usefulness of all of G-d's creations in all the uses for herbs and roots that are constantly being discovered, and which were not known earlier. It is impossible for man to know the properties of every single plant.
There are also many harmful and poisonous plants. Although they have the power to kill, they can also give us important drugs. Thus we see that it is possible to derive cures from a venomous snake, as well as other seemingly harmful things.
G-d made all the products of creation so that man would be able to keep the Torah and its mitzvot. If a person, gives no thought to the Olam Habah, but spends all his time eating and drinking, he is no better than an animal. The wise follow the good ways of Judaism, and eat and drink only to derive strength with which to keep the Torah.
Rabbi Moshe [Maimonides] wrote that if a person contemplates how man is made, he realizes that one must serve G-d without any though of reward. (Sefer HaMitzvot) One should do so merely because of the great kindness that G-d has done for us in creating us so perfectly.
Another reason why man was created on the sixth day was so that he would immediately be able to keep the Shabbat. (Sanhedrin, p. 38) This teaches that man was not created to eat and drink, but to keep the mitzvot and the Torah. (The author's own)
Still another reason is so the nonbelievers would not say that Adam helped in the work of creation. He was therefore created at the very end. (Sanhedrin, loc. cit.; Zohar Chadash 16c)
Here one may raise a question. Earlier, we cited a teaching that the angels were created on the second, rather than on the first day, so that it should not be said that they participated in creation. We therefore see that the fact that they were created on the second day refutes the argument of the nonbelievers. this being the case, why was Adam not created until the sixth day?
The reason was that Adam's wisdom was greater than even that of the angels. Since he was so intelligent, it might be thought that he was a partner in creation, so he was created at the very end. (Rabbi Avraham Yechini, Chupat Eliahu, [unpublished manuscript)
Another reason was to teach humility. If man is proud, G-d tells him, "The gnat was create before you." If he acts properly, he is told that he was created before the angels. (Sanhedrin, loc. cit.; Bereishit Rabbah)
This might seem difficult to understand, since man was actually created at the end. It cannot be said that he is better than the angels, since the angels were created on the second and fifth days, while he was not created until the sixth day. But man's soul was created on the first day, before the angels; so when a faithful Jew rejects worldly pleasures, studies Torah to the best of his ability, keeps the mitzvot, avoids sin, and in general, provides for his divine soul, he is told that he came before the angels. This is true, since the souls were created earlier, on the first day. (Bachya; Toedot Yitzchak) But if he sins and does not pay attention to his soul, then he is inferior even to the gnat, since it was created before him.
Man has no reason to be proud, since the animals are even more useful than he is. Their flesh is edible and healthful, their skins can be used for many things, and nothing in them is superfluous. Man's body, on the other hand, cannot be used for anything. (The author's own)
Our Sages teach us that this is the reason why the faces of animals are directed downward, because [the earth] will be their ultimate end. (Abarbanel, loc. cit.) Angels, on the other hand, face upward. Man, who is halfway between aniamls and angels, faces directly forward, neither upward nor downward. This indicates that he has free will to choose whichever direction he wishes. If he sins, he is like an animal, whose only concern is eating and drinking. A good Jew, on the other hand, is only concerned with the Olam Habah.
Man is a combination of flesh and blood, like an animal, and of pure divine soul, which is like the angels. He is always filled with conflict: (Sefer Mitzvot Gadol, Introduction) the flesh and blood in him seeks worldly pleasures, and its only interest is the physical; the soul wrestles with the flesh, arguing that man was not created merely to eat, drink and sleep, since this isthe destiny of an animal. When a true human being eats, drinks and sleeps, he must have in mind that he is doing so only to have the strength to serve G-d, keep the Torah, pray effectively and observe the mitzvot.
This conflict goes on in man without cessation, like two great warriors battling each other. There is no way of knowing which side will win until the indvidual dies. Sometimes a person can be wicked all his life, and in the end he becomes righteous, and sometimes the opposite occurs.
But when a person dies, he is shown an account of all his deeds in this physical world. Everything is recorded: how he lived, what he ate and drank, and in what manner he slept. If all this was done only to serve G-d, then this individucal is superior to the angels. Even though he ate, drank and clothed himself, his intent was not for himself. If, on the other hand, he is defeated by the Evil Urge and pursues wickedness in this world, then he is inferior to the animals. The animals have neither intelligence nor a soul, and they do not have the choice afforded to man by virtue of his divine soul. If man sins, it is fitting that he suffer punishment.
Twilight at Creation
[There is a time at sunset when it is neither day nor night. This twilight period of the sixth day therefore pertained neither to the six days of creation, nor to the ensuing Shabbat.] Our Sages teach that the following ten things were created during this twilight period preceding the Shabbat: (Avot 5:4 [the author changes the order somewhat.])
- The "mouth of the earth" which swallowed Korach and his followers. (BaMidbar 16:32)
- The "mouth" of Miryam's well. This followed the Yisraelite throughout their wanderings in the desert.
- The mouth of Balaam's donkey, which was destined to speak to him at the appointed time. (Ibid. 22:28)
- The rainbow which was seen by Noach. (Bereishit 9:13)
- The grave of Moshe. (See Devarim 34:6)
- The Shamir. This is a worm the size of a barleycorn, which has the power to split the largest mountians. King Shlomo made use of it to cut the stones of the Holy Temple.
- The writing [of the Ten Commandments] on the two tablets. This writing was miraculous, since it could be read from all four sides.
- The tablets themselves. These were two blocks made from the substance of the sun. Their length and breadth was six handbreadths [approx. twenty inches], while their thickness was three handbreadths [approx. ten inches].
- The staff of Moshe.
- The ram that Avraham [sacrificed in place of Yitzchak].
Some say that the Shedim (demons) were created on the twilight of the first Shabbat.
When the Sages speak of these things that were made on the twilight of creation, [it does not always mean that the thing was actually created at that time]. In some cases it means that it was decreed that the thing be prepared in its time. Thus, for example, it is impossible to say that the ram which was sacrificed in Yitzchak's place had lived for so many years since creation. (Zohar 1:102b; Zohar Chadash 8b)
There are some authorities who include the caves in which Moshe and Eliyahu beheld the Divine Presence, the grave of Aharon, and the garments of Adam among the things created on the twilight of the first Shabbat. (Halachot Gedolot, Venice 1548, p. 141c)
1:28 G-d blessed them and G-d said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea, the bird of the sky, and every living thing that moves the earth."
The Torah now informs us of the mitzvah to marry and have children. If a person is godfearing and concerned with his soul, he will pay close attention to everything that we are about to discuss, since this is the foundation of Judaism. He should strive to keep this mitzvah perfectly, as well as others associated with it.
Marriage and Children
A man should strive to marry by the age of eighteen. (Evven HaEzer 1)
The reason for this mitzvah is that G-d desired to created this world and to inhabit it, so that all would recognize His greatness and keep His mitzvot. (Sefer HaChinukh) One who does not fulfill this mitzvah and remains a bachelor all his life will be severely punished for refusing to keep one of G-d's mitzvot. A man cannot have a good life without a wife, [and vice versa].
Every man should strive to leave behind children who will keep G-d's mitzvot, remember His name, and know that there is a G-d in heaven who directs the universe. (Zohar 3;5a; Rabbi Menachem [Recanti], Taamei HaMitzvot [Constantinople, 1544])
Even though a person must keep all the mitzvot from the time of his thirteenth birthday, our Sages have a tradition that the obligation to marry and have children does not begin until one is eighteen. The normative time for intense Talmudic study does not begin until age fifteen; and when a person marries, it is no longer possible for him to study intensively. The time for marriage is therefore the eighteenth year. (Chelkat MeChokek [on Evven HaEzer]. Cf. Avot 5)
When a person does not attempt to have children, he causes the Divine Presense to depart from Yisrael. for the Divine Presence to rest on Yisrael, there must be six hundred thousand [males over twenty]; if even one is lacking, it departs. (Zohar Bereishit [Cf. Midrash HaGadol 32c, Yevamot 64a]) When a man is in a synagogue, he must assume that he is completing the quorum of ten, even if the synagogue is filled with men. Similarly, one must assume that the son that will be born will be the one who completes the six hundred thousand.
1:29 G-d said, "Behold, I have given to you all herbage yielding seed that is on the surface of the entire earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit; it shall be yours for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the sky, and to everything that moves on the earth, within which there is a living soul, every green herb is for food." And it was so.
The Torah now informs us that G-d told Adam and his wife, "From now on there is food reserved for you, the same as that of all other animals, birds and creeping things. This would consist of various types of grains, trees and vegetables." (Rashi)
According to another opinion, only Adam and Chavah were allowed to eat grain grasses and the fruit of the trees. The other animals were originally not permitted to eat these things, since it would not be fitting for them to be equal to man. G-d therefore told them to only eat "grass vegetation," and nothing else. (Ramban)
1:31 And G-d saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
The Torah now reviews the general idea that G-d saw everything that He created to be good. Although the expression, "G-d saw that it was good," is used almost every day, it is repeated here. The reason is that there are many things in creation that are potentially harmful. if a man burns his neighbor's house, then fire is injurious. The same is true when water drowns a person, or when a flood washes away a field. Nevertheless, fire and water are, for the most part, beneficial for man, and the same is true of everything else in creation.
The Torah says that G-d saw creation to be "very good." Even though some elements of creation might occasionally be harmful, this is an exception to the rule. In the majority of cases, they are beneficial. (Ibid.; Toledot Yitzchak)
Another reason for this expression is that man was created on this day. He was the epitome of creation: everything else was created only for his sake. The Torah thus says that it was "very good." In Hebrew, "very" is Meod, and if the letters of this word are rearranged, they can spell Adam, meaning "man." This teaches that man is the epitome of creation. (Ramban; [Rabbi Avraham Seva HaSefardi,] Tzeror HaMor, Venice 1502)
This expression also alludes to the two angels having power over man. The first, which advises him to do good and gain eternal life, is called the Angel of Life. The second gives rise to the evil desires which lead him to sin, and is called the Angel of Death. Regarding the Angel of Life, which is the Good Urge (Yetzer Tov), the Torah says, "behold it was good." The additional word "very" then alludes to the Angel of Death, which is the Evil Urge (Yetzer HaRa). It is denoted by this word to indicate that it is the stronger of the two. (Bereishit Rabbah; Zohar, Yitro, Mishpatim)
At this point one may raise an objection. Earlier we quoted sources that taught that the expression, "it was good," was not used on the second day because purgatory and strife were created on this day. How then can we say that the Angel of Death is alluded to in the expression, "very good?"
Actually, since the Agnel of Death brings every human being to certain death, without exception, man knows that his end is the grave. It is this fear of death that lies beyond that leads man to repent before G-d. It is therefore appropriately called "very good. (Zohar, Terumah)
It should be obvious that when the Evil Urge tempts man to sin, its intent is for his benefit. Even the Evil Urge was created by G-d, and, as one of G-d's servants, it would certainly not rebel against Him. Even when a servant has a cruel master, he is afraid to disobey. One may then wonder at the logic of this. [Certainly, even the Evil Urge would not rebel against a good master such as G-d.] Since G-d wishes man to do good and keep the mitzvot, why did He create an angel who wrestles with him and tries to make him sin?
It is obvious that even the Evil urge fulfills G-d's will in performing its task. The Zohar provides the following parable: (Ibid. p. 163)
A king once had a son who he loved very much. He hordered him not to go with any woman other than his wife, saying that if he did so, he would be banished from the royal palace. The son readily agreed to obey his father's order. After a while the king wanted to satisfy himself that he son was doing as he had been told.
Near the palace, there lived a beautiful harlot. The king summoned her, and ordered her to dress seductively and try to tempt the prince to sin with her. She was to use all her wiles; the king would thereby test his son, seeing whether or not he would pay attention to her. When the prince resisted this temptation, the king was extremely happy. He treasured his son, loving him even more than before, and gave him many valuable gifts. The one responsible for all this was the harlot.
The same is true here. If not for the Angel of Death, which is the Evil Urge that tempts man to sin, he would not be deserving of any reward for doing good. Our Sages therefore said, "Happy is he who does not encounter the Evil Urge, and happy is he who encounters the Evil Urge." This statement is not self-contradictory. When they say, "Happy is he who encounters the Evil Urge," they are speaking of the person who, upon being tempted to sin, wrestles with his urge and emerges victorious. If a person is weak and easily tempted, then "Happy is he who does not encounter the Evil Urge."
Do not think that the Evil Urge wishes to kill people; it derives no benefit from doing so. It does its Creator's will in tempting man, but it grieves when a man dies for his sins. The truly enlightened individual thanks the Evil Urge, since it is responsible for his ultimate reward. (Zohar, Shelach)
All the world was created that the mitzvot would be kept, and for no other reason. G-d made an explicit condition with all creation: If Yisrael accepts the Torah and commandments, all good and well. Bit if not, the world will revert to "chaos and void," as it was in the beginning.
Everything made during the six days was created during the daytime. Nothing was created at night. Hence, the universe and everything in it was created in seventy-two hours. (Zohar 2:116) When a person sins, he must therefore fast for three days and three nights, a total of seventy-two hours. This is because he has corrupted the world through his sin.
In Hebrew, the word Shavuah means both an oath and a week. The week is the seven days of creation. When a person makes a false oath, it is just as if he destroyed heaven and earth, making them revert to their primeval state of "chaos and void." (Avodah Zarah 1)
The account of creation ends with the words, "It was evening and it was morning, the sixth day." In Hebrew, "the sixth day" here is Yom HaShishi; this is the only case where the definite article is used. The other days are given as Yom Sheni and Yom Shlishi, without the definite article and therefore, could be translated, "a second day," and "a third day."
The definite article is represented by the letter heh, which has a numerical value of five. This alludes to the fact that the world endures only because we keep the mitzvot in the Five Books of the Torah. These Five Books are Bereishit, Shemot, VaYikra, BaMidbar, and Devarim. Through their merit, the world endures.
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